Two UK judges consented that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange can be extradited to the US after certain assurances were submitted. Judge Timothy Holroyde of the High Court in London said the US government’s appeal to have Assange extradited will be granted after he was assured that the fugitive’s rights would be respected.
If the case goes to the Westminster Magistrate’s Court and the UK Home Secretary signs off on the extradition, Assange will be repatriated to the US where he faces up to 175 years in prison for criminal charges that he broke an espionage law and attempted to hack government computers. He is currently being held at the Belmarsh Prison in London.
US authorities are charging the renowned journalist with publishing hundreds of thousands of classified military documents and diplomatic data from 2010 to 2011, an act the government said contravenes the Espionage Act. Judge Vanessa Baraitser of the London District Court ruled on January 4 that Assange must not be extradited to the US because the conditions under which he will be held will be detrimental to his mental health and that he might commit suicide in prison.
In a Diplomatic Noted dated February 5, the US assured that Assange will not be subjected to “special administrative measures”; he will not be confined to a maximum-security prison before and after his trial; he will be allowed to be extradited to his native country of Australia to serve his sentence if convicted; and that he will receive appropriate clinical and psychological treatment in detention.
Based on the four assurances above, Judge Holroyde said he can dismiss the fears and ruling of Judge Baraitser and send Assange to the US for trial.
Assange’s fiancée, Stella Moris, said the UK court’s decision will be appealed because it represents a “grave miscarriage of justice” and is totally “dangerous and misguided.” Human rights group Amnesty International said the four assurances upon which the judge agreed to send Assange to trial in the US are flawed since US authorities have made it clear “by their admission that they reserved the right to reverse those guarantees.”
“We will appeal this decision at the earliest possible moment,” she said. “How can it be fair, how can it be right, how can it be possible, to extradite Julian to the very country which plotted to kill him?”
Kristinn Hrafnsson, editor-in-chief of Wikileaks, said Assange’s proposed extradition is a travesty of justice and a serious threat to press freedom.
“Julian’s life is once more under grave threat, and so is the right of journalists to publish material that governments and corporations find inconvenient,” he stated. “This is about the right of a free press to publish without being threatened by a bullying superpower.”